Rondo’s HVRT CF0 was our 2019 Bike of The Year and uses Rondo’s innovative switchable fork dropout where a flipped insert alters ride position from racy to endurance.
That versatility also stretches to switching in 650b wheels to maximise tyre clearance for a capable gravel machine.
Its aero credentials are high. Tubing is of kammtail design, junctions are aero sculpted, and the dropped stays are aero shaped that taper down to the rear dropouts before a kink back toward the axle.
This subtle shaping has a pronounced effect. You see, with most aero-bladed seat tubes, stays and seatposts, large sizing means stiffness, leading to a harder ride.
But with the HVRT, the increased tyre clearance means the bladed tube narrows towards the bottom bracket, a cutaway giving 30mm clearance on 700c wheels and 47mm on 650.
This slimmer tube then works in sync with the seatstays where that kinked design acts like a spring, forging a compliant back end.
The fork offers plenty of design flourishes, too, including down-tube integration and a minimal yet wide profile, both for aero benefits.
The brake hose descends internally to a clever flat mount for the disc caliper.
Of course, the fork’s main innovation is that twin-tip dropout where you can alter the stack, reach, head angle, seat angle and fork offset.
To that end, the HVRT in its high-axle (race) setting is in its element. My 59cm test bike featured a stack just shy of 600mm and a long 407mm reach.
Throw in steep 73.8-degree head and 73.3-degree seat angles, with a 45mm fork offset, and you have one fast-steering machine.
The chassis responds rapidly to pedal and steering inputs. Thankfully, rigidity maximises ascents, as do the 11-28 cassette (and 36 upfront) and classy Fabric Scoop Ultimate saddle.
The wheels – a collaboration between Rondo and Hunt – impress too. A 50mm-deep carbon rim, with 21mm internal dimension, doesn’t sound like the template for a fast ascender, but it is thanks to a combination of the low 1,487g weight (per pair) and the rear hub’s rapid engagement. They’re impressive in crosswinds, too.
Master of road and rough
But it’s that easily switched geometry that’s the unique sell. In the low-axle position, the stack rises to 605mm and the reach down to 400mm, the head angle relaxes to 73 degrees, the seat angle to 72 degrees and the fork offset nudges to 40mm.
While the differences are subtle, the effect on the road is significant. In the higher position, it’s a nimble handler; in the lower position, it’s more stable.
Its metamorphosis from speedster to cruiser’s not cumbersome, though, as it’s still more aggressive than most endurance bikes (an equivalent Cannondale Synapse has a 610mm stack and 393mm reach).
The further bonus, of course, is the option of running 650b wheels with up to 47c tyres. Plenty of brands offer dual-wheel size for gravel bikes but, first and foremost, this is a road bike. Despite that, it’s a revelation in the rough.
The chassis is responsive while the 47c WTB Horizon tyres cover rough surfaces with ease. Big hits are dealt a further cushioned blow thanks to the Fabric saddle and Easton EC70 carbon bars.
To enjoy the full gravel experience, it needs a second wheelset. Rondo gives HRVT owners a 15 per cent off voucher with wheel partners Hunt. The wheels I tested (Hunt x Rondo 650b, 20mm internal) are £271.15 down from the RRP of £319.
Many gravel bikes, such as GT’s Grade, offer the versatility to enjoy the roads, but their DNA’s gravel. This is a road bike at heart.
As such, it’s race-day swift or, with a subtle insert flip, a comfy all-day steed. Ultimately, that versatility means if I had one bike to live with, arguably it’d be this.
Rondo HVRT CF0 geometry (Hi / LO axle position)
- Seat angle: 73.3 / 72.6 degrees
- Head angle: 73.8 / 73.1 degrees
- Chainstay: 41cm
- Seat tube: 57cm
- Top tube: 58.7cm / 58.9cm
- Head tube: 19.5cm
- Fork offset: 4.5 cm / 4cm
- Bottom bracket drop: 7.2cm / 6.7cm
- Stack: 60cm / 60.5
- Reach: 40.7cm / 40cm
|Available sizes||51, 54, 56, 59|
|Brakes||Shimano Dura-Ace hydraulic disc with Ice Tech rotors|
|Cranks||Shimano Dura-Ace, 52/36|
|Frame||EPS carbon superlight|
|Front derailleur||Shimano Dura-Ace|
|Handlebar||Easton EC70 Aero carbon|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Dura-Ace|
|Saddle||Fabric Scoop Flat Ultimate|
|Seatpost||Rondo aero carbon|
|Tyres||Continental GP5000 25mm 700c|
|Wheels||Hunt X Rondo 50 aero tubeless ready|